A friend just sent me this – a Seamus Heaney poem displayed in a New York subway station.

The poem is Scaffolding:

Masons, when they start upon a building,

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be

Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall

Confident that we have built our wall.

This was one of the very first poems that Heaney wrote, and as he explains in this short video where he also reads the poem, Scaffolding was written as an appeasement to his wife following a disagreement:

It is now two years since Heaney’s death in 2013. His last words, Noli timeri, texted to his wife and which mean ‘do not fear’, are reminiscent of his words to her in Scaffolding, at the beginning of their life together, ‘Never fear’. Heaney’s gravestone has recently been erected in his native Bellaghy:


‘Walk on air


your better


He continues to inspire…